Friday, April 28, 2006

49th San Francisco International Film Festival - Day 7

Well, it was a surreal day all around!

"The Shutka Book of Records" (dir. Aleksandar Manic, Czech Republic, 2005, 78 mins.) was (apparently) a quirky little documentary about the people of Shutka, a little town in Macedonia. I say "apparently" because I can not tell a lie and I did fall asleep in the middle of this. (Yes, it was only an hour and eighteen minutes, but...) What I did see was charming and pretty well described by Benjamin Friedland in the SFIFF program notes. I did catch enough of it to realize it does have a distinct charm of its own, though it does over use a 'cute' musical score, predominately featuring music from "8 1/2". Harumph.

More cuteness was around the corner in the shorts program, 'Friends - Lost and Found' which is aimed at childrens audiences. There were 8 shorts, with 4 directors in attendance, who nearly outnumbered the audience! A couple of families with kids were also there at this mid-afternoon screening. The highlights were:
"Hide & Seek" (dir. Charlie Canfield, USA 2005, 2 mins.) Set to the music of Chopin's Minute Waltz, a baby wolf and its mother play a game of hide and seek. Visually, it just POPPED! And it was short and sweet!

"Roberto the Insect Architect" (dirs. Galen Fott, Jerry Hunt, USA 2005, 12 min.) It benefits from having the largest budget of the group, as it was produced by Scholastic Books and based upon the book of the same name. It owes its look and wit to the book, no doubt. However, it was fun nonetheless.

"Kylie Goldstein, All American" (dir. Eva Saks, USA/China 2005, 3 min) A brief portrait of a little girl born in China and adopted by an American family. She was adorable and the film was quick, pithy and effective.

And not to be overly cynical, but the rest were fairly routine in that 'let's teach the kids a lesson' way: "A Bag of Sweets" (Matthias Bruhn, Germany 2005, 5 min.), "Cake" (Jennifer Arzt, USA 2005, 8 min.), "Emelia—The Five Year Old Goth Girl" (Derek Flood, USA 2005, 9 min), "Rubber Soles" (Christine Turner, USA 2005, 10 min) and "Sirah" (Cristine Spindler, USA 2005, 18 min).

The day continued to go down a surreal path as I entered the Castro district to meet my friend Jimmy for dinner and the evening flick, and we were greeted by this scene of chaos. The wreckage was only being cleared when the late evening screening was letting out.

"Heaven and Earth Magic" (dir. Harry Smith, USA, 1962, 81 mins.) is an animated feature that rivals and surpasses anything that Terry Gilliam may have created during his Monty Python years. The cut-out images continually evolve into icons, creatures and mystical settings. The film was accompanied by a live band, Deerhoof, who gave any group or composer from 'Bang the Can' a run for their money! The music actually kept me interested in what would have been a VERY LONG hour of surreal imagery. I loved them!

After an uncharacteristically nervous Sean Uyehara (associate programmer) gave us a little intermission info about Harry Smith and Deerhoof, the program continued with "Early Abstractions: Films 1 - 5" (dir. Harry Smith, USA, 1946-50) which were totally mind blowing! It was a psychedelic series of images, which Deerhoof provided an explosive score for! I LOVED this section of the evening!

There was not an HFD sighting tonight, as he was engaged at the Awards Banquet. I'm sure that's why he hasn't returned any of my calls, my letters or my email...


Maxxxxx said...

re "Shutka...": "It's naptime."
re: 'Friends - Lost and Found': Maxxxx would be quietly attentive and preen, as he LOVES cartoons!
re: Harry Smith and Deerhoof: Screaming!! (The loud noises scare Maxxxxx!)
re: The HFD: "I love you, too!"

Maestas said...

Wow. The films sound like it would have been a good day to be stoned throughout!